We are living through a seismic shift in our demographics. Chances are the Baby Boomers in your congregation dominate its culture. And, many of those Boomers are making way for their children and grandchildren who comprise the millennial generation. What may have effectively engaged these congregants, may not work for members of this new generation. The key to reaching this cohort lie in uncovering the relationship between values, wants, and needs. Encouraging millennials to become members may be challenging, but at the core of our Jewish culture, we already have all the elements necessary to attract and engage this group.
So, how can synagogues effectively reach millennials?
1. Create Rich Social Groups
Start a young professionals group, a new mothers group and more. Provide millennials with opportunities to regularly meet and gather with their peers in a comfortable social setting. It could be the social room at your synagogue, but it could also be at a bar, restaurant, or private home.
2. Build Relationships Beyond Programming
There is a real need to engage millennials with programming that speaks directly to them. A Young Jewish Professionals Wine and Cheese night is the perfect kind of event that will attract members of this generation. But, are we too trapped in the put on an event and “hopefully” people-will-become-members kind of mentality? You may achieve success in getting folks to attend an event or two, but when it comes to long-term planning and relationship building, more is required.
3. Cultivate Young Adult Leadership
Remember the relationship you had with your parents when you were 25? The younger generation always looks at the generations in front of them as being out of touch with their lives and at times even with the world. It is impossible to have an intentional millennial outreach effort without millennial-led leadership. Peers open doors for others in a believable way.
Millenials and their attachment to mobile are a given. Are all of your engagement/communications efforts optimized for mobile? Whether it’s your email formatting, web design or blog, work at integrating your marketing efforts into other digital platforms and ensure that your website is super quick and well-designed. Sites like Beth El Temple and Avodat Shalom are optimized and built from a mobile-first perspective.
Avoid generalities. Get specific. Gather small groups of millennials and dig deep into their world and their passions. You will find the connection points between Judaism and their values. Use this as the starting point for creating an intentional effort toward building meaningful relationships with them.
About the Author
Yoram Samets co-founded Jvillage Network based on his belief in the importance of strengthening Jewish communities. He is a partner at KSV, an independent, full-service advertising agency with offices in Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts.